Hayward, CA – A California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer was killed, and his partner was injured, after a suspected intoxicated driver slammed into the back of the officers’ patrol car on Christmas Eve, investigators said.
Officer Andrew Camilleri, 33, was killed in the line of duty, CHP officials confirmed during a Monday press conference.
His partner, Officer Jonathan Velasquez, was injured in the crash, and was taken to a local hospital.
He has since been released.
"This is not the way we wanted to celebrate Christmas Day,” Assistant Chief Sanchez said. “It’s definitely not the way we wanted the community to think of the 2017 Christmas holiday, but today’s not a holiday for the highway patrol. Today is the tragic loss of one of our own.”
The collision was reported just before 12 a.m., and occurred on Interstate 880 in Hayward, KNTV reported.
CHP Assistant Chief Ernest Sanchez said that the 22-year-old driver of a red Cadillac "drifted" onto the shoulder of the road “at a very high rate of speed,” and slammed into the back of the parked patrol vehicle.
“The impact was so severe that it turned a utility vehicle into a very small compact vehicle, so it kind of gives you an idea of the speeds that were involved,” Assistant Chief Sanchez said.
Investigators said the suspect was hospitalized after the collision, and will be charged with multiple felonies.
Assistant Chief Sanchez said that the suspect is in “serious condition,” and that his name is being withheld until doctors release him from the hospital.
“Let’s just say this individual was coming home from a party, and had obviously had too much to drink and maybe a little too much to smoke,” he said. “Marijuana is suspected, yes.”
Both officers were wearing seatbelts, which “definitely saved Officer Velazquez’s life,” Assistant Chief Sanchez noted.
Officer Velasquez’s wife met him at the hospital.
“As you can imagine, he’s very shook up,” Assistant Chief Sanchez said. “He will live with this tragedy of seeing his partner die.”
Officer Camilleri had been with the CHP for one year and four months.
He leaves behind his parents, siblings, wife, and three children – two sons aged two and six, and a 12-year-old daughter, police said.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Officer Camilleri, both blood and blue. Godspeed, we will take the watch from here. Thank you for your service.
Officer Andrew Camilleri, your life mattered.